‘Time for logic and common sense to prevail’ on Brexit

Sir Nicholas Soames speaking in the Commons (Parliament.tv).
Sir Nicholas Soames speaking in the Commons (Parliament.tv).

It is time for ‘logical and common sense to prevail’ on Brexit, according to Mid Sussex’s MP.

Last night the majority of MPs voted to take control of the process of leaving the EU.

Mid Sussex’s Sir Nicholas Soames was one of 30 Conservative MPs to back a cross-party amendment put forward by Sir Oliver Letwin, which will see a number of motions put forward on Brexit.

These have been described as a series of ‘indicative votes’.

Speaking in the Commons on Monday, Sir Nicholas said it was of the greatest importance that ‘we should now move to a conclusion on what is merely the beginning of a tortuous road that will eventually lead to our departure from the European Union’.

He found it ironic that some of those who were most vocal in their desire to leave the EU are ‘those who have most consistently voted against the withdrawal agreement and thus inhibited any real progress’.

The Conservative MP said there are no circumstances he would vote for a no deal or a second referendum.

He explained: “Both are a recipe for further chaos and division, which should be unacceptable to those on all sides of this argument, for whom it is surely time for logic and common sense to prevail.”

Sir Nicholas added: “I still believe in sanity. This is a country with a profound tradition of moderation and common sense. Our democratic institutions are elastic enough to be capable of compromise and of moving from the rhetoric of rejection to the painful necessity of an actual deal.

“It grieves me very much to see our influence abroad being so degraded, as the honourable member for North East Fife said, as allies and partners who are close friends watch from afar with dismay as we burn up our reservoirs of good will and our reputation for common sense, most especially in the European Union.

“Although it does not feel like it at the moment, this ancient country, in which we are so very privileged to live, is in general marked apart from many others by the tolerance, good nature and generally civilised manner of its democracy and institutions. These qualities are envied the world over; they need careful nurturing, but are currently entirely absent from the field. What on earth has happened to our pragmatism, self-restraint and common sense? It grieves me that our reputation is now under such extreme pressure at home and abroad; indeed, our reputation has been gravely diminished.

“I greatly regret having to speak in this way in our Parliament; indeed, I cannot believe that I should need to do so. However, like many others, I find myself truly distraught at the painful, difficult and intractable position in which our country finds itself. What I really want, as, I am sure, do most members of this house, is that the Government should be able to get on with the work of creating a more confident and hope-filled country that really cares for the weakest among us and for those who find their lives complicated and difficult; that encourages opportunity, enterprise and life chances; and that most especially keeps its vision of global service and influence, as a long-standing force for humanity and the general good.

“All of us know that many of our constituents are understandably extremely angry that Brexit has so distracted the Government from the serious issues we face—the NHS, education, crime, the reform of social care, housing, the environment and climate change, and all the other great issues that have inevitably had to be neglected as Brexit has gradually sucked the life blood out of the Government.

“As you very well know, Mr Speaker, the public believe that we have collectively let them down badly, and this is leading inevitably and very seriously to the fraying of the bonds between Parliament and the nation. The national interest clearly dictates that we have to get this done and that we must get on with the vital work of establishing our future relationships with our most important economic partners and allies.

“At the beginning of the business of the house every day, the Speaker’s Chaplain reads the prayer that enjoins Members most especially to ‘never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind’.

“All of us need to pay a little more attention to those wise, profound and humane words, which have guided and succoured this House through thick and thin down the years and in worse days than these.

“It is now time that Parliament did its duty by the country, for the national interest and for national unity, and regardless of party or inclination, to bring these matters to a belated conclusion.”